Monthly Archives: November 2011

Firsts

I was supposed to race this morning. Flight from Boston to Jacksonville was delayed last night, meaning I got home at 12:30AM. Race started at 7. I woke up at 6:50. There is a first time for everything, and this was my first DNS from oversleeping.

My First Win

I got to the pub about an hour before the race would start. I was wearing running shorts, a singlet, arm warmers and a speedo. Yeah, I had a speedo underneath the running shorts. But common decency won the day and I kept the running shorts on (which made things a tad uncomfortable for me but far more comfortable for everyone else). I met a couple of friends before the race and they asked whether I was going for the win. It was a small race (fewer than 120 racers) but nobody who I had ever raced against before. Rachel knew a few of them, and said that the fastest guy in the host club wasn’t running. So I had that going for me, which was nice. The course was a relatively flat (for Massachusetts) 3 loop main course with a small finishing loop to get to 5K. Each of the main loops would end with a pit stop in the pub to drink (read: chug) a 10oz beer, place a dollar tip in the tip jar, and get your bib stamped before leaving the pub and starting again.

My strategy for the race was simple. Since I didn’t know anyone, I would go out and see what the leaders were doing, and once I knew, I’d assess the pace and decide whether I could keep up and place at all. The other idea I had was to walk the entire pub/drinking portion of the run so that when I got to the beer, I wouldn’t be out of breath.

We got to the start, got last minute instructions and took off. Immediately I was in a group of 6 or so, and as we made the second turn of the loop, the group was whittled down to four. By the third loop, there were three of us in a tight pack. I came into the pub either in second or third, grabbed my beer and downed it as quickly as I could. I left the pub in second place, but by the first turn I was in first. And then I started passing slower folks who were still on the first loop. I didn’t really know what to say (I never do) as they would compliment/mockingly complain about my speed. I got into the pub, fought my way through the crowd to get my beer, and then took off for the third lap. At this point I knew I had a bit of a gap, so I gave the policemen and volunteers directing traffic on the course high fives. Rachel was on her second beer in the pub as I came in, chugged my beer, and took off for the short finishing loop.

As I left the pub parking lot, I looked behind and saw that I had a decent gap on second place, but I had no clue as to his closing speed. I had already vurped a couple of times on the larger loops, and losing the contents of my stomach would be a DQ, so I wasn’t quite sure whether I could match his pace if he started sprinting. We had outrun the volunteers to the last few turns so they shouted directions (“turn here” and “second entrance to the parking lot”). I was slightly worried that I would mistake their directions and lose a race I had in hand by going the wrong way. I crossed the finish line and shortly after greeted the second place guy. I was ecstatic. My first win ever, and of course it comes on a pub run. In a season of runs where I shocked myself with steady improvement, I wouldn’t call this my best run, but this was the first time I had ever won a race. In the end, I took first place by 12 seconds with a 21:04. Not my fastest 5K, but probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a 5K.

Despite a win, at a loss

I had a pretty full, fun weekend, and I was ready to write a race report about my first ever race win. Then I looked at Facebook and saw that one of my Facebook friends died at the finish of the Philly Marathon. I didn’t know him personally, but I think we had exchanged messages a few times as we were once part of the same triathlon group. But I know he affected a great many people in a very positive way. I’m saddened by the loss. I’m sad for his wife and kids and other relatives and friends. It reminds me a great deal of Wouter Weylandt’s death, only much much closer to home: CG wasn’t a professional athlete, but he was an endurance athlete, a man with a family, a job, and a passion. Events like this… I don’t know what to say. It sucks.

So what would have been a fun post to write about my first win… I’ll save it for tomorrow. It doesn’t feel right to put it here.

RIP CG.

Why I’m Not Playing Rugby (Sports I No Longer Do #1)

I’m finally getting my bike legs back. Did 15 30/30s tonight and was feeling great afterwards. Sent an email to the coach and his response was simply #happycoach. My swimming isn’t back to form yet, but getting the bike back near form is pretty great. Running is what it is, which is getting back to marathon form.

Why I’m Not (Still) Playing Rugby:
When I was in college, I played rugby for a year. I loved it (or at least, I loved the camaraderie). But I didn’t stick with it (like most sports before it). Why not? Well, for one, I hated to hit other people, and I hated to get hit. I sprained my knee in one game while making a hit; a teammate rolled into my knee and that night it swelled up to a nice large black and blue mass. Another time, I got spiked onto my tailbone by a forward. But the real nail in the coffin came when I went home that summer and played a bit of tennis: I dislodged cartilage in my wrist. Coming back to school in the fall, I realized I couldn’t brace my falls with my wrist. Any time I landed on it, a shot of pain went through my arm. So that’s when I decided to stop playing rugby. Not that I would’ve ever been as good as I wanted to be at it (I was too small, slow and afraid to hit).

You lost today, kid, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it

I’m back to training again (though, like I said at the end of the year party for Wheelworks, it doesn’t feel like I’ve stopped at all). I don’t mind it. I was so focused on running for 2-3 months that getting back on the bike and back in the water feel so different and new. Coach Steve has some really fun workouts planned, even though right now he calls them kind of boring/lame. I don’t think they are (again, I’ve been off the bike for a while, so even an hour at pretty easy with some 30s of max effort thrown in feels very, very hard. And incredibly rewarding afterwards). Watching Indiana Jones helps a bit, and has given me the mantra that is the title (but not the subject) of this post.

The Wheelworks party… ridiculousness. Such an awesome group of people, such good beer, good food, dancing (I don’t know that I can put the good adjective in front of my dancing). I’m glad that Anne and Mike convinced me to join (which was as hard as saying, “Jordan, you should join”). It’s funny how network effects work… I’ve met so many awesome people because I made that decision (which was just a small decision in a string of other decisions… oh butterfly effects).

I’ve been stressing a bit lately. Announcements for Team Rev3 are going on now at a pace of one a day. I am friends with a bunch of people in the running (myself included) and I am nervous for all of us. It’s a highly selective process and to be this far down the line… I am humbled. Of course, I’m human and I’ll be disappointed if I don’t make it, but it’s not going to change anything about me or about next season. I’ll still race in Costa Rica, I’ll still race Quassy (both Rev3), and I’ll probably race Old Orchard Beach (also Rev3). I’ll race the small local events, volunteer some, try to get moar faster. I’d love to race under the Rev3 banner, but there’s a good chance I won’t be picked, so I can’t go basing my season and preparation next year on that.

Season in Review

Despite missing a lot of goals, I really had a quite good season this year. As much as this is a season in review post, it’s also a look forward towards next year.

First, I was active on a team for once. Despite being a member of DCTri club for 3.5 years, my work in DC really prevented me from doing anything with the team aside from an occasional happy hour. This year, I got to meet and train and race and drink with the Wheelworks Tri Team here in Boston, and that was pretty awesome. It’s nice to have a whole team of friends. And through the team and it’s members, I’ve “met” a ton of other people (in real life, on twitter, at races). The triathlon community is fantastic. Nice, smart pros, nice, smart amateurs, and random connections all over the place (I found my coach through a racer at Wildflower who was wearing the kit of his neighbor (whom I know) because my now-coach doesn’t have a kit of his own… did you follow that?).

Second, I did all of last season on my own. From the Jacksonville Beach Marathon way back in February of last year (3:24 after a spectacular implosion at mile 20) to NOLA to Wildflower to Coeur d’Alene to the Marine Corps Marathon… all of the training and scheduling was done by myself. I wasn’t sure how well that would work, given that I’m inherently lazy and set far larger goals for myself than are sometimes possible1. And on top of that, I PRed all of my distance races (despite having stomach issues at every distance race). And then I shattered my marathon PR at Marine Corps… talk about a boost of confidence going into the off-season: doing hard work pays dividends (Occupy Hard Work). All that being said, I’m excited to be working with Steve this year. Aside from running, I didn’t improve much on the bike, and I think having someone who knows what they are doing in terms of scheduling workouts and providing the appropriate workouts is going to really be a benefit. He’s put me to work already, and I was up this morning riding the bike (after being off it since ~August probably). Yeah, that’s right. I woke up and got on the bike.

Third, I volunteered at a race for the first time this year. It’s hard work, but it’s incredibly rewarding. I’ll probably do more of it next year (provided I don’t have to am allowed to wear a grass skirt and coconuts every time I do (it’s my little way of giving back to the racers). It’s an interesting perspective for me, because as a volunteer I feel compelled to cheer for everyone, but as a racer, if I’m having a bad day, I get crabby (internally) when I’m told I’m doing great or “the finish is right around the corner” (case in point was during CDA as I struggled through the second lap of the run). But that’s only during the race, and you know what? Someone saying that is just trying to help you fight through whatever pain/demons/etc you’re dealing with. Volunteers/volunteering rocks.

Fourth, I donated a lot of money to various charities, and I’ve still got $125 that I owe (for Applefest and MCM). It’s been incredibly fun for me to set up these contests and interesting to see where people want me to put my money.

Yeah, I’d say that was a pretty good season. Here’s to hoping next year tops it.

1My sister K just finished the NYC Marathon with her husband. They both shattered their expectations. I saw them the Thursday before the race, and K handed me a sheet of paper that was basically a profile/interview about her from her local Crossfit gym. In it, she said I was her inspiration, because of all of the work I did doing triathlon; but the real WHY was that so often in my life I have said “I am going to do X” and then either not started on the path to X, half-assed an attempt at X, or quit on X. I could have gotten mad at her for saying that, but it WAS the truth. I used to be horrible at following through. Now, I think I’m a bit better. K, you’re an inspiration too.

Marine Corps Marathon

Short report: I went out a bit too fast, but not so much that I ruined my race. In the end I missed my mid-goal by 39 seconds, my stretch goal by 5:39 (I didn’t think there was much of a chance of getting that one given my race results. Thrilled with the result: it’s a 24 minute PR over my previous marathon, and there was far less of a collapse (though still a bit) post-20 miles than there had been previously. I’m excited for the off-season, excited for my new coach, and excited for what next season holds.
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